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Buying used cars online

Buying a car online allows you to:

  • view many cars before inspecting them
  • conduct research from a variety of websites
  • look at a wide range of cars without feeling pressured to buy
  • view feedback from previous buyers.

When you buy a car online, you could be buying from:

  • a licensed motor dealer
  • a private individual.

Follow our tips for buying from a licensed dealer or buying privately.

Before buying a car online it’s also important to do the same things you should do when buying a car in person:

  • compare on-road costs and operating costs, including registration, compulsory third-party insurance, stamp duty
  • check additional insurance costs
  • check fuel consumption, servicing and spare part costs
  • get an independent safety assessment
  • get an independent vehicle inspection on a used car
  • check the Personal Property Securities Register to make sure there’s no money owing on it
  • ask about and compare after sales support and warranties that different sellers and manufacturers offer
  • test drive the vehicle
  • not pay money for a car you haven’t seen or verified it exists.

When you buy used car privately, make sure:

  • the car, if registered, has a current safety certificate
  • the registration details match the owner details
  • the car is not stolen (you can contact local police and give them the VIN number, registration number and engine number)
  • you get a Personal Properties Security Register certificate to make sure there is no money owing on the car
  • you get an independent inspection from a qualified person or approved inspection station
  • the car has not had damage that has caused it to be listed as a write-off (vehicles under 15 years old that are written-off are listed on the written-off register).

Online scams

Watch out for scams when it comes to buying a vehicle online.

For instance, fake advertisements can appear on genuine car sales websites, classifieds and online auction sites. These scams claim to offer used cars for lower than expected prices, but often the cars don’t exist.

If you think you have been scammed and paid for a car that doesn’t exist or provided your account details or other personal identification details to a scammer, contact your bank, financial institution, or other relevant agencies immediately.

We recommend you never buy a car without seeing it or having it independently tested.

You can also report scams to the ACCC via the report a scam page. This helps warn people about current scams, monitor trends and disrupt scams where possible.

Visit SCAMwatch for the latest news and reports on scams.

Make a complaint

If you have a problem with a car you have bought online from a licensed motor dealer, contact the business to explain the problem and the outcome you want. In many cases a simple phone call or visit can fix the problem.

The business might discuss with you whether it is a minor or major problem to determine a repair, replacement, or refund and who will be responsible for the remedy, the business or the manufacturer.

It is a good idea to write a complaint letter or email, that way, the seller is clearly aware of the problem and what you want, and you also have a record of your contact.

Complain to the industry body

You can complain to the Motor Trades Association of Queensland (MTAQ) the peak body for Queensland’s automotive industry. You can only do this if your retailer is a member.

Complain to MTAQ

Complain to us – Office of Fair Trading

Complain to us